INDIANAPOLIS — Ricker's convenience stores would be allowed to keep and seek renewal of licenses to sell cold beer at two of its outlets under the latest version of a bill in the Indiana House of Representatives.
A recent bill had gone so far as to prohibit Ricker's from renewing a license that the state Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission had issued to stores in Columbus and Sheridan. Ricker's had refitted the stores and applied in March for restaurant licenses since convenience stores cannot sell cold beer in Indiana.
The issue grew as Republican leaders indicated Ricker's had found a loophole in the state's liquor laws. Ricker's added seating to the stores to fit restaurant guidelines.
"With these offerings, they met all the legal requirements necessary to obtain a restaurant permit not seeking loopholes as we heard in the press. They applied it as the law stands at this time," said Rep. Tony Cook, R-Cicero, whose district includes the Sheridan store.
On Wednesday, Cook offered an amendment that, if signed into law, would allow Ricker's to hold onto its license and seek annual renewal.
The amendment also places on hold any other establishment from seeking a similar permit and removes a stipulation that Ricker's, and three other similar retail sites, would have to have 30 percent of sales in cold beer.
"This language is not necessary and could result in other restaurants across the state being negatively impacted," Cook told the House chamber.
The Anderson-based Ricker's has 56 outlets in Indiana.
The House also approved an amendment filed by Rep. Terri Austin, D-Anderson, seeking a study of alcohol permits.
Austin said, "Think back on how many alcohol changes we have made. A permit for this and a statute for that, extended hours for this, and the truth is we created a patchwork of policies and laws."
Her amendment was approved on a voice vote of House members.
The measure, Senate Bill 358, faces a third reading in the House.